Report of the Development Control Manager
The Panel gave consideration to the report (as set out at pages 4 - 36 of the agenda reports pack), the further representations and responses received thereto in the addendum (as set out at pages 1 - 5 of the supplementary agenda reports pack) and the Officers’ Presentation (as set out at slides 1 - 13) as presented and summarised by the Development Control Manager which asked the Chair to determine a planning application for a development of 350 dwellings, comprising a full planning application for the first 250 dwellings (Phase 2A) and an outline planning application for an additional 100 dwellings with all matters reserved for subsequent approval (Phase 2B).
A discussion led by the Chair was had whereby it was accepted that, for the reasons set out in the report and upon the advice provided by fellow Panel Officers at the meeting, the Officers’ recommendation to permit the planning application was well-reasoned and justified and that, conversely, there were insubstantial material planning grounds upon which a refusal of planning permission could be framed.
The reason(s) given by the Chair for this decision was that, in accordance with the Oadby and Wigston Local Plan as adopted in April 2019 (“the Local Plan”), and the specific provisions of Policy 21 contained therein, due to the site being an allocated site for at least 250 dwellings, and with the application totalling 350 dwellings (i.e. 250 dwellings in ‘full’ form and up to 100 dwellings in ‘outline’ form), on balance, the principle of the development was acceptable as was the overall acceptability having taken the other relevant considerations into account and, as such, was deemed to significantly contribute to the Borough’s evidence-based local housing supply need.
The Head of the Built Environment and the Head of Law & Democracy / Monitoring Officer also spoke upon the planning application in relation to specific and pertinent planning policy and legal matters and considerations.
In particular, the Chair was advised that, having received a request from an adjoining landowner to include a suitably worded condition in any forthcoming approval confirming that the development must safeguard access through the site to the adjoining land, this adjoining land was not allocated in the Local Plan, despite having been promoted through the Local Plan preparation and Examination process, with its location in the Green Wedge and lack of access being two significant constraints. It was further advised that a condition in this respect was not considered to meet the tests in terms of it being necessary, reasonable and enforceable, and that it would relate to the ‘outline’ element of the application where the detailed layout was, as yet, unknown.
Having carefully and systematically taken into account the fellow Panel Officers’ advice on every response and representation received by each statutory and neighbour consultee (as set out in the report and the addendum), together with the detailed responses from the applicant where appropriate, the Chair was satisfied that the real and/or perceived concerns raised by the consultees in relation to the proposed development could be adequately mitigated by the attached recommended conditions and the obligations and contributions sought under an agreement pursuant to section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The Chair also noted that the responses received back from the various Responsible Authorities did not substantiate consultees’ concerns.
In relation to a request made by a number of Members that the planning application ought to be deferred until such time as there could be more substantive Member and public involvement, the Chair was guided by the advice contained in the Chief Planner’s ‘Planning Update Newsletter’ dated March 2020 (“the Newsletter”), particularly under the heading ‘COVID-19 - Decision Making’, and the advice contained in an e-mail sent to Members by the Head of Law & Democracy / Monitoring Officer dated 26 March 2020 (“the E-mail”).
Copies of the Newsletter and the E-mail are filed with this minute and marked as Appendix 11 and 12 respectively.
In accordance with Part 3, Section 6, Paragraph 1.4.5 of the Council's Constitution (Urgency Provisions), having considered the advice of fellow Panel Officers in attendance, and having carefully balanced the contents as set out in the report and the representations and responses received as set out in the report and addendum, it was by the Chair
(i) The application be GRANTED planning permission in accordance with the submitted documents and plans and subject to the prescribed conditions (as amended at (ii) below) and the completion of a suitable Agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990; and
(ii) A further condition be added such that all flank wall windows on the dwellings hereby approved within Phase 2A of the development shall be fitted with obscure glazing, with the exception of those plots where a flank wall window faces onto a public or private highway, garden area associated with the dwelling the flank wall window is located in, or area of public open space. All windows fitted with obscure glazing shall only be replaced with obscure glazing. This being in the interests of amenity in accordance with policies 6 and 44 of the Oadby and Wigston Borough Council Local Plan.